Author Topic: Multiplayer Video Game Rants: Healers and the need for expanded roles  (Read 1743 times)

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Offline Witchyjoshy

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Healers and the need for people to stop whining that they are expanding beyond their role of heal-slaves.  (Something that obviously wouldn't fit into the topic title)

This isn't anything official, this is just me blabbing about my experiences with seeing how people treat healers.

This is an issue that exists in tabletop RPGs and MMOs of the previous years, and has been steadily going away.  This is a good thing, as it means that developers are starting to realize that people have been shying away from healer classes for a reason.

The problem is that many players have yet to catch up to this fact.

First of all, what is a healer?  That depends on who you ask.  Some people think that a healer is someone who is dedicated to healing the party.  The definition I am working with is a healer is a class with a consistent ability to heal others, though they may be able to do more.  Generally speaking, while a paladin can heal, they cannot do so consistently.  A cleric would be more consistent.

In general, healer classes tend to fit into two categories.  The ones that focus exclusively on healing, and the ones that hybridize healing with damage.  (Players who build healers as pure damage tend to be forgetting the whole point of the class).

There are several problems with pure healers, though.  First of all, while healing can be a rewarding experience in a party, there's the kicker.  In a party.  Unless your MMO supports competent hirelings, the healer class is going to be the one that will have the hardest time leveling.  You see, at low levels, any braindead warrior can pick up a sword and go cleave something without any healing.  The smarter mages and archers will be able to easily take care of monsters before they can even get close.  The "pure healing" class, however, is stuck.  They have to rely on physical attacks, but they generally have a very weak physical attack.  The only way they can solo is to whittle an enemy down while outliving them.  This also means resting a lot between long battles because your resources tend to get used up while outliving your enemy.

They should party, you say?  With who?  Everyone else can solo.  The healer needs a party to grind, but no one's interested at those low levels.

Of course, therein lies the problem. At higher levels, parties need healers.  But healers need to get to high levels to be of use to those parties.  So either the healer needs to make some friends dedicated to leveling them up, or the healers have to put five times the effort into achieving the same results as everyone else.

This is where the idea of "hybrid" healers comes in.  Healers that can deal significant amounts of damage.  The general expectation, of course, is that they end up sacrificing some of their healing ability to do so, and that their damage prowess, while improved, is still generally one of the weaker damage options.  Generally, MMOs that allow this also allow builds, so that you can be a pure healer if you want (such as changing your build at end game when you don't need to grind anymore) or a hybrid healer to help the party with damage as well as healing.  I can name several MMOs that accomplish these.

The problem, though, is that most dumb warriors and selfish mages don't want a hybrid healer.  They want to be the stars.  They're the damage dealers and the tanks.  The healer's job, to them, is solely to make sure they keep going.  So whenever they see any healer who uses the damage abilities provided to them by the game, the first words they utter are

"Reroll."
"Delete that healer and reroll, no one wants a healer who deals damage."
"OMG you gimped your healing."

There's also the general attitude.  Healers are expected to be the nanny of the party.  If a party member dies, even if it's because they went after a stray monster and got ambushed to death from too far away, it's the healer's fault.  If a party wipes, it's the healer's fault.  If a tank gets killed in two seconds because he had paper for armor, it's the healer's fault.

This attitude has actually led several healers of the modern age to actually avoid playing in parties and instead play alone.  Because with their increased damage potential, they are actually able to do so.

There is a bit of a backlash against game companies when it comes to allowing healers to deal damage.  In the case of Lord of the Rings Online, where the Minstrel can now actually deal significant damage while in a party, the fans tend to complain that the game is "homogenizing the classes."

These are the same people who insist that MMORPGs should not try to balance classes, because "the only way to balance classes is to make them all identical", which is one of the biggest bits of bullshit I have ever heard.  (For reference, I have seen this used to defend Wizards being overpowered as fuck in Dungeons and Dragons Online, and that melee characters shouldn't be buffed because "they knew what they were getting into when they rolled a fighter instead of a wizard.")

And that's my rant.  Hope ya enjoyed it.
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Offline SpaceProg

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Re: Multiplayer Video Game Rants: Healers and the need for expanded roles
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2013, 03:55:41 pm »
It seems logical to me to have a healer that's reasonably good at both healing and damage.  It's realistic as army medics are taught to save lives as well as to fight.

Offline starseeker

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Re: Multiplayer Video Game Rants: Healers and the need for expanded roles
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2013, 04:51:55 pm »
Never seen anyone in WoW bitch that a Discipline priest doing some damage is a bad thing, because the attack heals and damages at the same time. Mistwalker (healer) monks, have to get in and punch the mobs to get the chi they need to do some heals, especially at lower levels.

In FFXI, the dancer heals by using the resource all other melee use for special attacks, though they're more commonly used for soloing or healing smaller groups.

Though to be fair in any MMO, the average damage dealer is a little thick and prone to tunnel vision.

Offline ironbite

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Re: Multiplayer Video Game Rants: Healers and the need for expanded roles
« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2013, 04:53:25 pm »
Let's get some tabletop examples.  In the game I'm in now, I'm a druid.  Who can heal admittidly but that's not why I chose the class.  I wanted to be a healer and a front line fighter, something the party doesn't have right now.  So I've got a badass spinosaurus as an animal companion and I had, had mind you, a decent AC.  But I fucked up a fort save and now am back down to having the shittiest of shitty ACs at the level we're at.  Am I whining about being back in the role of healer?  No.  I prep my heal spells at the higher levels while still being able to buff.  But people who do whine about healers not healing enough or dealing too much damage need to shut up and fucking realize that everyone wants to play.  And if they want to play a healer...they can.

Ironbite-I miss my half a million gold in equipment though.

Offline Witchyjoshy

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Re: Multiplayer Video Game Rants: Healers and the need for expanded roles
« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2013, 07:47:15 pm »
Let's get some tabletop examples.  In the game I'm in now, I'm a druid.  Who can heal admittidly but that's not why I chose the class.  I wanted to be a healer and a front line fighter, something the party doesn't have right now.  So I've got a badass spinosaurus as an animal companion and I had, had mind you, a decent AC.  But I fucked up a fort save and now am back down to having the shittiest of shitty ACs at the level we're at.  Am I whining about being back in the role of healer?  No.  I prep my heal spells at the higher levels while still being able to buff.  But people who do whine about healers not healing enough or dealing too much damage need to shut up and fucking realize that everyone wants to play.  And if they want to play a healer...they can.

Ironbite-I miss my half a million gold in equipment though.

*pats reassuringly*
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Offline SpaceProg

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Re: Multiplayer Video Game Rants: Healers and the need for expanded roles
« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2013, 10:10:49 pm »
I've had the same thing happen to one of my healer/support characters in DnD.  My orc bard took a pretty good hit, though not as much as Ibby's char did.  Still it really sucks.

It got better though.

Offline Meshakhad

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Re: Multiplayer Video Game Rants: Healers and the need for expanded roles
« Reply #6 on: September 04, 2013, 02:10:48 am »
Let's just say there's a reason my Pathfinder group typically ends up with cleric cohorts.

I don't have much experience with the online version of this. The only MMO I've played enough is EVE Online, which allows players to swap out ships as needed. Also, healers are considered underpowered unless everyone does it, aka spider-tanking.
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Offline RavynousHunter

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Re: Multiplayer Video Game Rants: Healers and the need for expanded roles
« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2013, 05:14:31 pm »
I actually enjoyed playing a healer Favoured Soul in DDO; sometimes its nice to be able to sit back, relax, and let everyone else do the dirty work, lol.

That said, this is another reason I love Guild Wars 2: everyone can heal.  Either heal themselves or anyone in a given area.  Also, anyone can resurrect people; just walk up to them and hit F.  Hell, you even get experience for it and multiple people can work on bringing the same person back into the fray faster.  Damn near everything about it encourages cooperative play and you don't need a party outside dungeons, either, as there's so many people everywhere that most events have at least a few people there and you can even solo many of them yourself, should you so desire.
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Offline Cerim Treascair

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Re: Multiplayer Video Game Rants: Healers and the need for expanded roles
« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2013, 08:48:10 pm »
Speaking as a full-on DPS Arms warrior in WoW... yeah, I frankly wouldn't have minded a few more self-heals to ease the burden on our raid heal team.  Maybe even a small 'in a pinch' group heal to heal for 5% of max health in 40 yards or something.  Nothing major.

I was a pretty lousy straight healer, but give me some self-healing and let me go to work! Odds are good I'll keep MYSELF up just fine 7 times out of 10.
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Offline RavynousHunter

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Re: Multiplayer Video Game Rants: Healers and the need for expanded roles
« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2013, 10:46:29 pm »
I got lots of praise for how well I healed...I honestly don't see how hard it could be outside a raid.  You got, like, 4-5 people to heal; they take a hit, use whatever heal spell you've got that gets the job done with the least cost.  A 12-man DDO raid?  That's when ya need 3 dedicated healers or so.  Just split the other 9 members into teams of 3 and have one healer cover one team plus themselves.  Hell, in DDO, one of the guaranteed ways to get into a party was if you were a healer, at any level.

I will say that I am glad that whole dynamic's been so radically altered in GW2, though.  Makes it much more fair to everyone, if ya ask me.
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Re: Multiplayer Video Game Rants: Healers and the need for expanded roles
« Reply #10 on: September 21, 2013, 11:04:01 pm »
I ran run dungeon where the healer refused to heal anyone. He claimed he was teaching everyone that they should come into dungeons prepared and not rely solely on their healers. And we couldn't kick him because it takes forever to get a healer in the queue. We were halfway through when he started his shit, and everyone just wanted to finish.

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Re: Multiplayer Video Game Rants: Healers and the need for expanded roles
« Reply #11 on: September 21, 2013, 11:52:01 pm »
I ran run dungeon where the healer refused to heal anyone. He claimed he was teaching everyone that they should come into dungeons prepared and not rely solely on their healers. And we couldn't kick him because it takes forever to get a healer in the queue. We were halfway through when he started his shit, and everyone just wanted to finish.

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Offline Cerim Treascair

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Re: Multiplayer Video Game Rants: Healers and the need for expanded roles
« Reply #12 on: September 22, 2013, 12:21:22 am »
I ran run dungeon where the healer refused to heal anyone. He claimed he was teaching everyone that they should come into dungeons prepared and not rely solely on their healers. And we couldn't kick him because it takes forever to get a healer in the queue. We were halfway through when he started his shit, and everyone just wanted to finish.

Yeah, my guild wouldn't put up with that shit.  At our height, we always had four healers around, seven tanks and truckloads of DPS.  Raid nights were a blast.
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Re: Multiplayer Video Game Rants: Healers and the need for expanded roles
« Reply #13 on: September 22, 2013, 01:53:17 am »
I just want to point out that I don't mind playing a healer that does nothing else than heals.

In TF2 I've played a good medic without firing a single shot in a round. In WoW back in the day's I had enough trouble keeping focused on keeping the group alive to waste mana or concentration to do damage as well. I admit that in WoW the constant respeccing to damage dealing build was a bother untill they came up with the dual-spec where you have two builds and can change between them at any time. (I had thought of that before it showed up in the game and wondered why it hadn't been possible before. It made soloing much easier for healers and tanks.)

Playing a support class is a whole different game and I like it. I haven't played any of those healing classes that ALSO do damage all the time but I guess that's yet another playstyle and might be fun as well, but as I said I have liked pure healers so at least one person doesn't think they are bad. YMMV.

And personally I dislike tanks way more since it just seems more unrealistic. (Says a man who isn't bothered about gnomes, dragons, magitek or most of the other unrealistic parts or WoW...) I know it's just a gameplay mechanic but it always seemed a bit weird to me. "Those three people are shooting me in the back and there is that squishy healer back there so the smart thing would be to first stomp him an- WHAT THE FUCK DID THAT PALADIN JUST SAY TO ME?! I'M GONNA TEAR HIS FUCKING HEAD OFF RAWR!"

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Offline Witchyjoshy

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Re: Multiplayer Video Game Rants: Healers and the need for expanded roles
« Reply #14 on: September 22, 2013, 04:56:02 am »
I just want to point out that I don't mind playing a healer that does nothing else than heals.

In TF2 I've played a good medic without firing a single shot in a round. In WoW back in the day's I had enough trouble keeping focused on keeping the group alive to waste mana or concentration to do damage as well. I admit that in WoW the constant respeccing to damage dealing build was a bother untill they came up with the dual-spec where you have two builds and can change between them at any time. (I had thought of that before it showed up in the game and wondered why it hadn't been possible before. It made soloing much easier for healers and tanks.)

Playing a support class is a whole different game and I like it. I haven't played any of those healing classes that ALSO do damage all the time but I guess that's yet another playstyle and might be fun as well, but as I said I have liked pure healers so at least one person doesn't think they are bad. YMMV.

And personally I dislike tanks way more since it just seems more unrealistic. (Says a man who isn't bothered about gnomes, dragons, magitek or most of the other unrealistic parts or WoW...) I know it's just a gameplay mechanic but it always seemed a bit weird to me. "Those three people are shooting me in the back and there is that squishy healer back there so the smart thing would be to first stomp him an- WHAT THE FUCK DID THAT PALADIN JUST SAY TO ME?! I'M GONNA TEAR HIS FUCKING HEAD OFF RAWR!"



You make some good points, but bearing in mind that in TF2, cooperation is enforced.  In MMOs, soloing is an entirely viable tactic.

Pure healing is viable in situations where

A. There are always other players available to party with (the older a game gets, the harder this becomes at lower levels)

B. Those players are required to party with you.

If neither of these requirements are met, it's time to give the healer a cannon.
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